Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Effect of environmental conditions on cetacean entanglements: a case study from the Gold Coast, Australia

E. Volep A B E , A. R. Carroll B , D. Strauss A , J.-O. Meynecke A C D and D. Kobashi A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Griffith Centre for Coastal Management, G51 Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Parklands Drive, Southport, Qld 4222, Australia.

B Griffith School of Environment, G24 Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Parklands Drive, Southport, Qld 4222, Australia.

C Australian Rivers Institute, N78 Nathan Campus, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Road, Nathan, Qld 4111, Australia.

D Humpbacks and Highrises, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, PO Box 195, Parklands Drive, Southport, Qld 4222, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: elizabeth.volep@griffithuni.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research - https://doi.org/10.1071/MF16302
Submitted: 4 September 2016  Accepted: 8 March 2017   Published online: 1 June 2017

Abstract

Entanglement of marine mammals in fishing gear is recognised worldwide and is a continuous management concern. Gill-net entanglement data from the Queensland Shark Control Program (QSCP) on the Gold Coast, Australia, from 1990 to 2012 were analysed in the present study. Environmental drivers that may affect entanglements of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were selected. M. novaeangliae entanglements coincided with their annual migration, with the greatest occurrences in September. D. delphis were mostly entangled from March to November, with the greatest occurrences in June. For both species, entanglements primarily occurred when the wave height was between 0.5 and 1.25 m, the wave power was between 0 and 5 kW m–1 and the wind speed was between 12 and 19 km h–1. M. novaeangliae entanglements were significantly more likely to occur in low rainfall (<6 mm h–1), and D. delphis entanglements were more likely to occur during spring tides. There was a correlation between entanglements and the position of the East Australian Current’s (EAC) maximum velocity, with 73% of M. novaeangliae entanglements and 79% of D. delphis entanglements occurring when the EAC’s maximum velocity was west (shoreward) of its average position at 154°E. The present study provides the first set of possible management intervention targets associated with environmental conditions.

Additional keywords: Delphinus delphis, entanglements, environmental drivers, Megaptera novaeangliae, Queensland, shark nets.


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